Nagoya, Japan | AFP | With steely focus, player number 3 scored a stunning opening goal in the first few minutes of the high-stakes football match between a dominant Bordeaux and their plucky Chinese opponents.But as the crowds cheered, the pint-sized player, known as Arya, showed none of the customary swagger of triumphant strikers. In fact, robot number 3 and its teammates showed no emotion at all as they continued to exterminate their rivals’ hopes of victory at RoboCup 2017 in Japan.The game, which Bordeaux won 4-0, was one of the gripping final matches in a four-day event that saw about 3,000 researchers and engineering students from 40 countries displaying the prowess of their latest robotic inventions on the football pitch.Ranging in design from humanoids with human faces to more skeletal contraptions, the robots were programmed to be self-directed and played strategically without being given instructions.The robots “see” using a camera installed in their heads, while installed with artificial intelligence (AI) to recognise the spacing and objects in the sight.The annual championship, which was held in the central Japanese city of Nagoya, started 20 years ago when a computer beat the top human player in chess, “a big event which prompted computer engineers to set the next goal”, said Itsuki Noda, the president of the RoboCup Federation.“Unlike chess, football players have to read constantly changing situations and choose the best movements while competing against rivals,” he said.“Also, football requires very good teamwork, which was a completely unresearched area for computer engineers. To solve the riddle, we chose soccer for the robots’ next challenge.” Technologies have since advanced so that robots can make autonomous judgements and cooperate with others, said Noda, also the principal research manager at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology.That ability to play as a team was the “winning factor” in Bordeaux University’s triumph, according to associate professor Olivier Ly, who acted as coach and positioned his team’s players.“We developed lots of features on the team play… The robots play together, try to do some passes,” he said.The Chinese team deployed highly mobile robots that, unafflicted by injury concerns, were quick to bounce back to their feet after falling over.But it was not enough to match the French team.As the match ended and the humans celebrated, the lifeless robot players were quietly packed away into suitcases.Share on: WhatsApp
The winner between Uganda and Somalia will face the winner between South Sudan and Burundi in the last phase of the qualifiers. Burundi beat South Sudan 2-0 in the first leg last weekend and the return leg will be played on Sunday in Kampala.The South Sudan Football Association opted to play their home game in Uganda because their Juba Stadium is undergoing renovation.The CHAN tournament is played by locally based players playing in the domestic leagues of the respective countries. Uganda has featured in the 2018, 2016, 2014 and 2012 Editions of the CHAN competition.*****URNShare on: WhatsApp FILE PHOTO: Uganda CranesKampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Head coach of Somalia’s national team Bashir Hayford has said his team has what it takes to get a win against hosts Uganda in the return leg of the 2020 Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifier.Uganda Cranes will host Somalia in the return leg this afternoon at the StarTimes Stadium, Lugogo. Under caretaker coach Abudallah Mubiru, the Uganda Cranes have a 3-1 advantage after winning in the first leg played in Djibouti last weekend.Hayford told URN on Friday evening that although they lost the first leg, his team is determined to get a good result in Kampala.“We have prepared well and rectified the mistakes we made in the first leg. We know Uganda is a strong side, but we are well motivated to get a good result against them,” added Hayford who was in charge of Ghana at the 2018 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations.But Uganda’s coach Mubiru has made it clear his team will have to show a good game in-front of the home fans. “We shall not underrate the Somalia team because we beat them in the first leg. We want to be more clinical in-front of goal,” added Mubiru.The Uganda Cranes will miss the services of defender Timothy Awany who captained during the first leg, but traveled to Israel to negotiate a professional move.
The teams the Steelers are battling with are the Broncos (8-6), Ravens (8-6), Jaguars (7-7), Dolphins (7-7), Jets (7-7), Texans (7-7) and Titans (7-7).The Ravens looked impressive as they easily defeated the Bears 31-7 to stay ahead of the Steelers and make this weekend’s showdown at Heinz Field enormous for both teams. This has become one of the biggest rivalries in the NFL and no game has been bigger for these two teams than this weekend, which will just about eliminate the loser. Who knows, maybe all the other contenders will lose, again.The Dolphins have been one of the hottest teams in the league of late but they ran into an even hotter team in the Titans and went down to a 27-24 overtime loss. The Titans after starting 0-6 with Vince Young on the bench having gone 7-1 since the owner forced the coach to start him. This is a team no one wants to see in the playoffs.The Steelers almost had their typical fourth quarter meltdown as the Packers came roaring back to take a 36-30 lead with only minutes left, after outscoring the Steelers 22-6 in the fourth quarter to that point. The offense put together one of its most impressive drives of the season, a 12- play, 86-yard drive, ending with the sensational 19-yard touchdown reception by Mike Wallace from Roethlisberger that looked a lot like the play in which Santonio Holmes helped win the Super Bowl. The Steelers ended the game much like they began, with a touchdown pass to Wallace. They opened the game with a 60-yard strike to Wallace who outran his defender, but still had to come back for the under thrown ball for the touchdown. He only had two catches in the game, both for scores.“He made plays when given the opportunity, not that he’s had a bunch of opportunities and sometimes, it’s like that,” said coach Mike Tomlin. “It’s about what you do with them when you get them. He played big. He played older than a rookie for us today which was needed.”It took the best game of the season from Roethlisberger for the Steelers to pull it off. The defense faltered, and Tomlin decided to try an on-side kick, that failed, deep in Packer territory, which led to a Green Bay score that most thought was the game.The 503 yards racked up by Roethlisberger was a Pittsburgh record. He was 29 of 46 with three touchdown passes. The running game was all but abandoned with Rashard Mendenhall picking up 38 yards on just 11 carries and Willie Parker 22 yards on just six carries. However, Mendenhall was very active in the passing game as he had six receptions for 73 yards. Of the six players grabbing those 503 yards, Hines Ward led the way with seven catches for 126 yards, which put him over 1,000 for the year for the sixth time in his career; Heath Miller had seven catches for 118 yards, a personal best, and he also broke the record for tight end receptions for a single season. Holmes had three catches for 77 yards.Aaron Rodgers, who’s rapidly becoming one of the brightest young quarterbacks in the league, picked the Steelers defense apart for 383 yards on 26 of 48 passing and three touchdowns. Young Greg Jennings had eight catches for 118 yards, including an 83 yard touchdown catch that erased the 60-yarder by Wallace, pulling the Packers even, and tight end Jermichael Finley had nine catches for 74 yards. The defense held running back Ryan Grant to just 37 yards on eight carries.Once again the defense looked weak, primarily the secondary with rookie Joe Burnett playing in place of William Gay. It would be hard to play any worse than Gay has in the past eight games.The win ended the Steelers five-game losing streak Right now the Indianapolis Colts (14-0), San Diego Chargers (11-3), Cincinnati Bengals (9-5), and New England Patriots (9-5) pretty much have the divisions sewn up. Only the Bengals could possible fall, if they lose both of their remaining games and the Ravens win both of theirs. Stranger things have happened, especially when dealing with the Bengals. The Steelers were able to avoid a fourth quarter collapse to keep their slight glimmer of a playoff birth alive with a last second touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Mike Wallace giving them a thrilling 37-36 victory over the 9-5 Green Bay Packers. Now they must prepare for conference rival Baltimore (8-6).With the Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars and Denver Broncos all losing, the Steelers stayed alive, but they will have to win out against the Ravens and the Dolphins, and hope the teams ahead of them for the wild card berth continue to lose. PLAY OF THE GAME— Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Mike Wallace catches a touchdown pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in front of Green Bay Packers’ Josh Bell (26) with time running out in the fourth quarter Dec. 20, in Pittsburgh. The Steelers won 37-36.